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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals - and cold-blooded murder.

One is playing a long game. But which one? 

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he's also passing through. Yet she stays, and he stays - drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other - dangerous, even lethal secrets. 

Then someone dies. Was it an accident or part of a plan? By now Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other's lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away - or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them? 

Something - or someone - has to give. 

Which one will it be? 

Inspired by James M. Cain's masterpieces The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce, Sunburn is a tantalizing modern noir from the incomparable Laura Lippman. 

©2018 Laura Lippman (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Susan Bennett takes Lippman's irresistible setup and puts us in a flickering black-and-white world in which morality is iffy and sometimes being bad isn't so bad.... Bennett gives even supporting characters dimension, from Polly's mother-in-law to her ex- to her rival for Adam. With Lippman's strong, spare prose and suspenseful plot - including film noir references sprinkled throughout - and Bennett's solid delivery, this is noir listening at its finest." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jim N
  • Chicago, IL
  • 02-25-18

Outstanding Mystery

Complex characters, shifting perspectives and a heaping helping of pure tension keep this novel moving. At times, not only is it unclear to the reader just what is motivating the characters, the characters themselves seem unclear about just what they want. I found that entirely believable.

Laura Lippman acknowledges the clear influence of James M. Cain within the novel itself and with Sunburn, she's written a strong contribution of her own to noir fiction. Highly recommended.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent noir novel

What did you like best about this story?

Love the way Lippman both draws on and updates noir tropes in this novel. Sunburn is as compelling as any classic noir tale, but Lippman opens the story up by relaying events from the perspective of different characters, which added depth and texture to the story. (Some of the characters who appeared very briefly in the book were interesting enough that I'd love to see them re-appear in one of Lippman's future books, like the lesbian detective)

I've been reading Lippman for years, and have enjoyed all of her other books, but this one is my favorite.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Polly arrives at Adam's motel room in the middle of the night

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

It's so much harder to find a good audiobook rather than just something to read. Bad narration makes it difficult to enjoy a good novel. Even mediocre narration, or a narrator who does an OK job but is a bad fit for the material, can create a disappointing listening experience. Fortunately, the narration of this novel works perfectly.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Blew Me Away!

I love Laura Lippman; I have read/listened to, every book she's written and this may be her best. Where to start? The novel is written from multiple characters' viewpoints and it is done... I don't know where to go with this review without it sounded cliched. It is a stunning book. There are twists and turns and Lippman manages to keep the reader off-balance throughout this entrancing, intricately woven story. Polly (the main character) is fascinating, riveting, and a victim? victimizer? Domestic violence, murder, machinations and love are all tightly woven into this tour de force. Oh, and lest I forget, the narrator couldn't have been better. She consummately inhabited all the characters, but she IS Polly.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • antonio
  • genthod, Switzerland
  • 04-06-18

A beautifully written noir in small town America

Sunburn is a subtle and enigmatic piece of storytelling and an absorbing psychological drama revolving around a woman ,Polly, full of ambiguities, mystery and unusual charm.
A beautifully written book and a joy to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Passionless

For a story that uses a passionate affair as its narrative center, this is surprisingly without much heat. I never felt any emotional attachment between Polly and Adam....although maybe that was intended. The entire story seemed very passionless. Not the fault of the narrator, Susan Bennett is excellent. I felt the prose was flat and rather clipped, draining any tension or excitement from the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

didn't enjoy

struggled with it all, love this author bit this was unpleasant
beginning to end ,sad waste of time

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best Ever

Wow. I agree with the other readers. This is her best yet (& I like her a lot& have read them all). Great suspense. Good pacing. Great characters. Just as good as it gets. So grateful for a really good tale (and an excellent reader, too).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Average

Unfortunately, not my favorite. Couldn't make myself like the heroine. A little too dark and dreary

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I apologize for wanting a happy ending. As far as I was concerned this book failed me in that respect. Just left me feeling hollow and I like Ms Lippmanns books normally! Felt like I spent all those hours listening and then had the rug pulled out from under me at the end. I cried !!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The good, the bad and the bad.....

Wow, this story is a train wreck! Polly seems to be determined to ruin her life and the lives of those around her. Yes, this story is dark, very dark. I could not like a single character. However, the story roars along, nonstop, and would not let me take a break! I do recommend it, but be warned that it is very dark and not like the other Laura Lippman novels I have read/listened to!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful